Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Setting the record straight on Azaj Hakim Worqneh’s biography

I recently got a copy of your newspaper dated December 2, 2012. The article written on that date by your columnist Professor Richard Pankhurst bears the title “Hakim Workneh Martin Remembered.”
The article of Professor Richard Pankhurst is neither book review nor an account of Azaj HakimWorqneh Eshetu’s biography. It is rather semi fictitious remark of that noble and respected Ethiopia’s first Medical Doctor. My reason for the above statement follows here under.
Azaj Hakim Worqneh was sent to London as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Ethiopian Embassy in Great Britain in 1935. This was the time that, the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini attacked Ethiopia’s border troops assigned in Wolwol, a province in the Ogaden district. As representative of his country, Azaj Hakim Worqneh was busy in exposing the unprovoked Italian attack via the mass media. He was giving Radio interviews, writing articles in newspaper and magazines of the world. During this time, Miss Sylvia and her boy friend Mr. Corrio, the father of Richard were publishing a newspaper called New Times. When they met Minister Worqneh the first time, they had brought and donated several copies of their newspaper to the Embassy. Gradually with the blessing of Azaj Hakim Worqneh, they changed the name of their newspaper and re-named it New Times and Ethiopian News in 1936 whence Azaj Worqneh became mentor of Miss Sylvia. Richard Corrio was probably a toddler at this time. Considering his age, that he “received medical advice from Dr. Charles Martin” is not true. What is more plausible is that, he may have got medical treatment rather than medical advice.
In the second paragraph of the article, Richard writes “he came from a prominent Gondar family (meaning Worqneh) that, for one reason or another, we do not know precisely why – was attached to Emperor Tewodros.” Richard has been in Ethiopia for over fifty years and yet by being aloof he does not speak Amharic nor reads books written by Ethiopian historians. Had he as a “historian” read Gerima Taffere’s Meyissaw Kassa, Ye Quaraw Anbessa he would have known the reason why the family of Azaj Hakim Worqneh were ‘attached to Emperor Tewodros’s court at Maqdalla.”
In the fifth paragraph Richard writes “Workneh meanwhile realizing that he has been abandoned by his guardian, rushed about like a mad thing, looking for any one he knew-but to no avail.” As far as I know a human being is not a thing. So to say that “the child rushed like a mad thing” is not correct English.
Richard wrote “The British, seeing him in this condition, jumped to the conclusion that he must be an orphan … feeling a sense of responsibility for the assumed “orphan” … thought it best to take him to India.” Where did Richard get this story from? This statement is typical of sensation seeking journalistic report rather than an account by a true historian. This remark confirms that Richard does not read books written by Ethiopians. Had he done that, he would have found out from my book that Azaj Hakim Worqneh Eshetu was taken to Egypt together with Dejazmatch Alemayehu, the eight year old son of Tewodros. Arriving at Alexandria, General Napier was told by Queen Victoria, to bring Alemayehu to London. Thus, the three year old child was left behind in Alexandria, where upon Colonel Charles Chamberlain took him to India.
In the 8th paragraph, Richard stated “His story is told in two recent monographs. The first in Amharic, is thus widely accessible in Ethiopia. It is by Ato Tadele Bitul Kibret and is entitled Ye Azazh Hakim Warqneh Eshetu Ye Hiywot Tarik (Addis Ababa 2000). The least Richard could have done is to quote the print date of my book correctly which is 2001 and not 2000.
In the same paragraph Richard wrote “his story is told in two monographs”. The Oxford dictionary defines monograph “a detailed written study of a single subject, usually in the form of a short book.” In the same dictionary, biography is defined “the story of a person’s life written by somebody else.” Thus my book of 338 pages which describes the life of Azaj Hakim Worqneh Eshetu is a biography and not a monograph.
What amazed me most in the above mentioned article, is Richard’s remark that “Professor Garritson had access to Hakim Workneh’s diaries and was thereby able to provide a more in-depth account of this remarkable son of Ethiopia.” As I mentioned above Richard likes to belittle everything written by Ethiopians. Not only that, as a so called historian he did not even have the inquisitiveness to read the book he testified “as the first in Amharic is widely accessible in Ethiopia.” Had he read my book, he would have found out, that I had access not only to the diary and autobiography of Azaj Hakim Worqneh Eshetu, but I had also the privilege to know him personally, eat and dance in his house for more than eight years. Thus Richard has in the above statement presented his whimsical report rather than the facts which are written in my book.
Another evidence of Richard’s bias against my book is the blurb he has written at the back cover of Garritson’s book. He wrote “this ground breaking biography, on which Peter Garritson has spent almost a life-time, is a work of major importance.” How can a book printed in 2012 be called ground breaking, while my book was written 2009? Moreover, does it really take a lifetime to write a single book? Especially when one has access to the diary and autobiography of the individual?
What is more amazing is the blurb written by Garritson on that very page. Garritson claimed “this is the first full biography of Hakim Warqenah Eshate or Dr. Charles Martin, a man of overlapping identities as a world citizen. In truth the title of his book is “A Victorian Gentleman and an Ethiopian Nationalist. The name Azazh Hakim Worqneh Eshete is presented as a passing by remark and with wrong spelling. The bare truth is that my book is the very first biography of Azaj Hakim Worqneh Eshetu.
Though both Richard and Peter have tried to belittle my work, the fact is that I have spent my time and money to write the biography of that great Ethiopian national. Garritson has printed his book with the money solicited and given to him by several institutions. His book is sold 95 dollars per copy while my book is sold for less than 4 dollars. Thus, both Richard’s and Peter’s motives are to use such gimmicks of publicity and hence sell as many copies as possible and amass wealth.
Let me add here one more thing. Prior to his printing the book “A Victorian Gentleman and an Ethiopian Nationalist, Peter Garritson begged Eleni Mekuria the grand daughter of Azaj Hakim Worqneh Esshetu, to send him photographs of Worqneh by pointing the pages in my book. Eleni on her part asked, Daniel Gabrel the grandson of Azaj Hakim Worqneh. Receiving a copy of the E-mail which Peter has sent to Eleni, Daniel kindly sent him the photographs he had asked. When the book came out in 2012, Peter unashamedly claimed copy right. Surprisingly the photographs he has copied from my book are printed at random, void of context with the texts in the written pages. Moreover, Peter, has unashamedly claimed copy right of the photos he has copied from my book.
Though I can present many other facts about the follies of Richard and Garritson I prefer for now to end this writing here.
In conclusion, I shall soon submit to you, a summary of the biography of Azaj Hakim Worqneh Eshetu, so that your readers will know the truth.
May 28, 2013
Tadele Bitul Kibrat (Eng.)